Betfair Australia has defied the Jockey Club’s demand, continuing to host markets on Hong Kong racing.
On Wednesday, the Jockey Club wrote an open letter to the company, ordering it to cease and desist, but that request was ignored with the betting exchange operating on Sunday’s Sha Tin meeting and promoting the fact it was doing so on Twitter.
A total of A$472,165 (HK$2.52 million) was matched across the 10 races – an increase of about A$50,000 (HK$267,000) on last week’s meeting – with the biggest hold of A$87,733 (HK$468,896) coming in the Class Two.
The Jockey Club remains adamant the biggest issue is the threat to integrity – the ability for punters to profit off a horse losing and the potential for that to be exploited.
While the Jockey Club declined to comment on the record about Betfair Australia continuing to operate on Hong Kong racing, the fight is definitely continuing behind the scenes.
The addition of Betfair to the marketplace (for punters in Australia) hasn’t really affected the Jockey Club’s turnover, which again increased on last year’s figure, up HK$30 million to HK$1.393 billion.
Hewitson outed for two weeks
Lyle Hewitson’s chase for his first Hong Kong winner has hit a little hurdle after the young South African was suspended for two weeks from an incident in his home country almost five months ago.
He will miss the next four meetings after being suspended for failing to ride a horse out to the satisfaction of stewards at Fairview racecourse on April 12. His horse, Believethisbeauty, finished fourth.
The 21-year-old appealed that decision and the matter was only finalised by the National Horseracing Authority of South Africa’s “Inquiry Review Board” on Friday, which confirmed the original penalty.
While the timing is not ideal, Hewitson is determined to put his nose to the grindstone.
“The way I’m going to approach it is that I’m going to tell the trainers that I’m still willing to work,” he said.
“Just because I’m off from races doesn’t mean I’m going to take the time off. For me the main thing is to show face and try and get as much work as I can. If you work hard, it creates good luck.”
Hewitson will return for the meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday, September 25.
Shinn headlines trio of suspensions
Speaking of stewards, they were busy long after the races concluded at Sha Tin on Sunday, handing out three suspensions.
Blake Shinn was hit hardest, outed for three meetings for causing interference on Flying Noble in the third race.
He misses the cards on September 18, 21 and 25 for “a high degree of carelessness” when he badly hampered Money Marshal and subsequently caused Surewin to clip heels and blunder.
Keith Yeung Ming-lun was also outed for two meetings for careless riding on This One’s For You in the sixth event – he will be sidelined on September 25 and October 1, while Matthew Poon Ming-fai copped the same penalty for the same offence aboard Mr Genuine in the ninth race.
He takes his ban after Wednesday night’s Happy Valley meeting.
So’s Missile hits target
Trainer Chris So Wai-yin was relieved to see his promising galloper Invincible Missile kick his season off on a winning note in the Class Three Pee Yo Handicap (1,200m).
The four-year-old flashed his ability last term but was a little frustrating with just one win and four minor placings to show for it.
Invincible Missile showed what he is capable of on Sunday though, responding to the urgings of jockey Zac Purton in the straight to record a tough win.
“He was only three last season, I think he will be better at four. There’s no rush – we’ve got plenty of time,” So said.
“I don’t think 1,200m is the best distance for him, but he was fresh. He trialled OK and I didn’t want to push him to 1,400m at this stage of the campaign. Let’s see how he pulls up – I think he’ll be better over 1,400m.”
O’Sullivan credits Conghua for fast start
Paul O’Sullivan is normally a slow starter but he is off to a flier this season after securing a rare September double on Sunday.
The popular New Zealander snared a brace with Destin and Cool Team, crediting the Conghua facility for his unusually quick beginning, with both horses having spent the off-season in the mainland.
“My horses are far more forward than they’ve ever been just because we’ve got Conghua there,” O’Sullivan said.
“We sent about 25 horses up there and there’s no interruption to their training. They’ve all had a spell and they started working before the track at Sha Tin opened. We’re very thankful for it and it probably gives a little bit of an edge for one or two horses.”
No Korea, no worries for Baby
He might have missed out on a trip to Korea, but Big Time Baby didn’t throw the toys out of the pram, instead bouncing back to form by taking out the Class Two Po Yan Handicap at Sha Tin on Sunday.Manfred Man Ka-leung’s five-year-old was entered for the Korea Sprint, but was not invited, but he bounced back from that disappointment by scoring his third Hong Kong victory.
“I thought he would run a good race, I wasn’t surprised,” Man said. “He always runs well, just last season he sometimes missed the start.
“He had a little bit of a leg problem – bone chips – but he’s come back better after the time off.”
New sponsors for Million Challenge
There is a new sponsor for the Happy Valley Million Challenge after Hong Kong Airlines cut short its deal with the Jockey Club despite still having a year to go on the original agreement.
The cash-strapped airline signed a three-year deal in 2017 but they are not seeing it out, instead replaced by DBS and Manulife, who have joined forces for the naming rights of the series.
The Million Challenge is a series which runs from September 11 until February 26, with horses scoring points for all Class Three and above races at Happy Valley during that period.
The overall winner collects HK$650,000, with HK$250,00 going to the owner of the second placegetter and HK$100,000 to third.
The John Size-trained Country Star took out last year’s major prize with previous winners including Charity Glory, Packing Dragon, Speedy Longwah and Twin Delight.